Business people in the towns of Ballina, Ballycastle, Bonniconlon, Foxford, Crossmolina, Killala, and Swinford are being urged to take up the grant aid that is available to them to make improvements to their shop fronts under a recently adopted Traditional Facades Grant Scheme. The scheme was adopted by the members of the Ballina Municipal District at their October meeting on Wednesday this week.
This is the first time the scheme is being rolled out to the smaller towns in the region, having previously been only available in the former Ballina Town Council area, but with the setting up of the municipal districts last year it was decided to offer the scheme to business people in smaller towns in the region. Outlining what is on offer to business people Mayo County Council's Paul Benson told the members: "It's proposed it is extended across the entire district, to date it has only been in Ballina Town Council former area, the council's architect has prepared maps for the areas that are eligible for it, it is really focusing on the historic core areas in the towns, not in the periphery, we will start in the centre and work our way out. It will be focused on the traditional historic built environment in the towns. There are a number of initiatives that can be funded, painting is an obvious one, you can get up to €100 to paint your entire building, for removal of inappropriate signs and advertisement you can get €100, traditional shopfront signing or lettering you can get €1,200. Traditional window detailing you can get up to €1,200. There is funding available, we don't know what the demand will be, it will be advertised soon, we want people to apply by the end of the year, so come January we will know what the demand is and how much finding is needed for the 2016 funding. We have some from the town council, you may have to dip into the General Municipal Allocation to match funding if we are short, but it would be worthwhile to do it.
“The hardest thing sometimes is to give away money, it is amazing, some people have accessed the scheme before and it is amazing how many don’t,” he added. “It is the buildings in the town centre that we would like to focus on that will bring a major improvement to the towns not the marginal ones.”
Welcoming the roll out of the scheme, Fine Gael councillor John O’Hara said: “It’s one of the better ideas that has come before this district, I was in Killarney last year and you could not but notice the way the streets and shop fronts were done. It gives a great impression of a town, this could be a start to really help and promote our towns by making them as attractive as you can.” Cllr Neil Cruise said, “At time when business are finding it tough this is a chance to give things back to our rate payers, it can be only positive for the towns in the area.”
Fianna Fail Cllr Ainne May Reape who proposed the adoption of the plan added: “We have to be positive and I hope that people take it up, it’s up to all of us as councillors to sell it to the people who this can benefit and it will be a benefit to all.”